Wednesday, 10 June 2009 revisited

This time last year (issue 154) Robert Thorneycroft and Cathy Bell of catalogue design firm ThorneycroftBell reviewed the catalogue for Catalogue e-business magazine. So when the latest edition of the catalogue landed on my desk earlier this week I decided to take a closer look and see whether it had acted upon any of the advice:

  • The 2009 edition is the same size and pagination as its predecessor; it still uses a fairly large typeface and still features large, clean images of the products and their various colourways. Last year, used a gatefold order form at the back of the catalogue. Using a traditional form, wrote ThorneycroftBell, is essential when targeting a more mature audience. continues to feature an order form, but for 2009 it is reduced to one page inside the back cover. Whilst still very usable in its own right, the form now also prompts customers to order online by reinforcing that the website is “simple, fast, secure”. The telephone order line is also featured prominently.

  • In its critique ThorneycroftBell picked up on’s discounting tactics. Previously the catalogue would simply strike through the old price and display the new price in a larger size. seems to have listened to the advice and has changed the way it displays prices. It now prints the recommended retail price and then its new price: “RRP £59.99 > Our Price £39.99”. also uses dot whacks for some promotions such as “Save £20 on RRP” and “Only £19.99 Hurry While Stocks Last” to reinforce the value message as ThorneycroftBell suggested.

  • This year has grouped men’s shoes toward the back of the book and as advised by the review uses the headline “Men’s Collection” at the top of the page to differentiate men’s styles from the rest of the offering. There is one problem though, the headline appears two pages after men’s shoes are first featured. Something might need to work on.

  • Another suggestion did not act upon was to clarify its “Limited Edition” section. As with last year, there is no information on the quantity of the pairs in stock. As ThorneycroftBell pointed out, “If it were only 100 pairs in each size, then promoting this information could stimulate some urgency in customers to order now…If it were 1,000 pairs, we are not sure it’s even worth saying”.

  • ThorneycroftBell advised to make more of its website by promoting it within the catalogue’s opening spread. has not done this, though it does feature socks and shoe boxes displaying a nice cross-selling touch. Page 2 has also seen the introductory letter improved. Yes, it’s still written by Debbie, but this year we know who she is! When ThorneycroftBell reviewed the catalogue it wasn’t clear whether Debbie was a fictional character or a real staffer. In the summer 2009 edition of the catalogue her identity is revealed as a member of the buying team and the company’s TV presenter.

  • previously had Debbie’s “thoughts on each style” appear throughout the catalogue. ThorneycroftBell noted that “The idea of someone promoting products from a personal point of view needs more clarity and development to really add anything substantial to the offer”. Perhaps took this on board as it has dispensed with Debbie’s comments altogether.

We can’t say for sure whether considered our contributors’ advice while working on its 2009 catalogues, but we’d certainly like to think so.—MT

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